For a brief time, it wasn't a risky decor decision — it was a deadly one.
According to the New York Times, preindustrial paints and dyes were so unstable that mi a consistent green hue was tricky. As early as the 16th century, game tables were covered in green fabric (and often still are today) — a nod to the color's chance-y nature.
Unstable as the color was, people still tried to harness it. This shade is derived from the same reaction that produces the hauntingly beautiful green patina on bronze statues.
Scheele's Green was a vibrant pigment used for wallpapers, candles, homegoods, clothes, and even confections. It was extremely popular, but contained arsenic and lead to the deaths of children (and possibly Napoleon). Early William Morris designs, like the "Trellis" wallpaper, also contained the lethal substance.
By the 1860s, chemists figured out a way to make a more stable green ink that was resistant to destruction and fading and was difficult to counterfeit. So, the once slippery color quickly became one of our most ubiquitous — appearing on every American bill.
The themed decor scheme started when Thomas Jefferson added a green floor cloth to the space, then was expanded upon by John Quincy Adams, who added green draperies and upholstered pieces. The room became popular for teas and receptions. However, there is a sad history to the space. After Willie Lincoln died in the White House, they displayed the casket here. Mary Todd Lincoln never entered the room again.
In fact, it was one of the first colors offered. Fiberglass allowed for Eames' chairs to take on a number of hues. Although initially, the line focused on neutrals (Greige, Elephant Hide Gray, Parchment), Eames labored over more exciting hues and added green, yellow, and red to the collection. Today, Seafoam Green is one of the rarest hues to find in antique Eames chairs (like this one on eBay).
Initially, the shutters were painted a shade of emerald. Time passed, and the vibrant green aged to the almost-black hue. Visitors clamored to replicate the striking color, which complements nearly any exterior. In 1989, the Historic Charleston Foundation officially named the color "Charlestonian Black Green."
Research shows that this friendly color can get our imaginations flowing and make us more inventive, which might partly explain why humans often take inspiration from nature.
Even people who are colorblind can show sensitivity to subtle green shades, reports the New York Times.
Fun fact: Disney theme parks employ a color called "go away green" to hide features that the parks don't want guests to notice too much (like trash cans and utility boxes).